THE month of Ramadan will present the perfect opportunity for Bradford’s Muslims and non-Muslims alike to build positive relations and learn more about each other’s cultures, a community figure has said.

Dr Javed Bashir, founder of Bradford-based Volunteering Interfaith Partnership – an organisation that encourages community cohesion – said unity is more important now than ever, given some of the things we have faced and seen over recent times.

Charity is a big part of Ramadan, and Dr Bashir hopes that it can help to relieve some of the pressure on families struggling amid the cost of living crisis.

With Bradford home to a growing refugee population – as conflicts in places like Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria continue, and the Rohingya ethnic group continue to face persecution in Burma – he said that now is a great time for communities in the district to come together.

“The higher purpose of Ramadan is to go above and beyond for others,” Dr Bashir, from Keighley, said.

“It’s a great chance to bond with others, empathise with the less fortunate, give charity and do good deeds.

“The cost of living crisis has brought hardship to many, but it has also spurred acts of kindness and compassion and seen us reconsider what is truly important in our lives.

“These moments of generosity represent the core values of Ramadan and show us that even during a crisis, there is opportunity for progress.”

One of the five pillars of Islam is zakat – an obligation to give 2.5 per cent of one’s disposal income to charity.

Ramadan often sees an increase in zakat, with Dr Bashir claiming that British Muslims give over £100 million to charity in Ramadan alone.

“Ramadan is not just about you, god and your plate. It’s about supporting people,” he continued.

“Let us also make this Ramadan about building stronger relations with our neighbours and the wider community – we must open our homes and our mosques to feed not only our fellow Muslims, but the wider community.”

Dr Bashir further added that Ramadan can help to change any negative views people may have of Muslims.

“It can be an opportunity to change the negative perceptions – we can show people what our communities are really like,” he said.

“When people from different faiths and backgrounds get together to share – whether it’s sharing beliefs, sharing ideas or sharing food – that’s the best way to break barriers.”